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Keeping Pace

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series News And Notes

NASCAR has its Camping World West Series running at Portland (Oregon) International Raceway in July-a seven hour drive from the Inland Empire. Those interested in seeing NASCAR stars D.J. Kennington, JR Fitzpatrick and Cale Gale who are development drivers for some of NASCAR’s top teams and former Indy Car driver, Andrew Ranger, can head to Vernon, B.C. in July-a five hour drive north. The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series runs the half-mile Sun Valley Speedway complete with live pit stops in the A&W Crusin’ The Dub 300.

Check out the latest news from the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series which is home to Kennington, Gale, Ranger and Fitzpatrick.


Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

The Road Suits Fitzpatrick’s Style

Although he has yet to make his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series debut this year, the 2009 race season has already been an eventful one for JR Fitzpatrick.

The 21-year-old driver out of Cambridge, Ont., began the season by leading 17 laps and a fourth-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway for TRG Motorsports. He went on to make three more starts for that team, but decided to part ways shortly thereafter.

In late May, Kevin Harvick Inc. announced that it had signed Fitzpatrick to a developmental contract to include both NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series events. He made his KHI debut in the No. 4 Equipment Express Chevrolet on May 30 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and brought it home with an 11th-place finish.

“I’m so excited to be with KHI. Everybody there is helpful and great to work with,” said Fitzpatrick. “I really want to take full advantage of this opportunity and if I keep sending it back to the shop in one piece, I’ll get some more chances.”

On Sunday, he will return to his homeland to make his first start in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series for the 2009 season at Mosport International Raceway—a 200-kilometer race on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile road course.

Despite cutting his teeth on the oval tracks of Canada, Fitzpatrick has become an accomplished road-course racer. In eight NASCAR Canadian Tire Series starts on road tracks, he has two wins, five top fives and six top 10s.

“It’s kind of weird. I grew up on short tracks,” he said. “Road courses really suit my driving style, though. They’re better to over drive and if you mess up, most of the time there’s room to get it corrected.”

With aggressiveness on the track already of long suit, fellow competitors on Sunday will see an even more hard-driving Fitzpatrick looking to defend his Dickies 200 title. Points are of no consequence to him—winning is the sole focus. If a win is in store, he will have to come from the back to do it. He will start the race from the back due to missing Saturday’s qualifying session while at Michigan International Speedway competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event. Series veteran Jim Lapcevich will practice and qualify the No. 84 Fitzpatrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

While a good handling car is a must at any road course, Fitzpatrick points to horsepower as the key to success at Mosport due to the long Mario Andretti Straightaway that virtually runs the entire length of the track.

“Obviously, the car has to handle in the turns, but so much ground can be lost on the long  straightaway, you need a strong motor for any chance at all.”

Fast Facts

The Race: Dickies 200
The Place: Mosport International Raceway, Bowmanville, Ont.
The Date: Sunday, June 14
The Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 2.459-mile road course
Race Purse: $82,148 CAD
2008 Winner:
JR Fitzpatrick
2008 Pole: Scott Steckly
Schedule: Saturday, June 13: Practice 11 a.m.-12:40 p.m. Qualifying 3:30 p.m.

2009 DRIVER STANDINGS

1  Ron Beauchamp Jr. 345
2  Dave Whitlock 336
3  Kerry Micks         335
4  Scott Steckly 335
5  DJ Kennington 305
6  Andrew Ranger 302
7  Anthony Simone 284
8  Don Thomson Jr. 282
9  Mark Dilley         275
10 Jason White         257
11 Kent Nuhn         254
12 Jason Hathaway 245

More Focused Simone Team Ready To Contend

The lessons of a rookie season sometimes can be too numerous to count, but they must be learned and not allowed to become disheartening.

Anthony Simone’s (No. 95 Crown Modular/United Lumber Chevrolet) first season in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series had its share of disappointments, but he and his team took a hard look at where they were and made some key adjustments.

The first decision was to bring in someone established in the series to run the show. They were able to lure Guilio Montanari away from the Jason Hathaway team to get Simone, who came from the open-wheel racing world, better versed in the stock car way of thinking.

“He knows these cars so well and know what it takes to win in this series,” said Simone.

Montanari helped lead Hathaway to his first series win in last year’s season finale at Kawartha Speedway.

Engine problems plagued Simone all season long in 2008, so this year, they have opted to join in on NASCAR’s spec engine program.

“We really like it, so far,” he said. “We’re pretty anxious to see how it does on a horsepower track like Mosport, but it has been awesome, so far.”

With the steadying influence of Montanari and a reliable motor program, the 2008 rookie of the year runner-up has shown marked improvement this season. In last weekend’s Delaware 200, the driver out of Holland Landing, Ont., led 24 laps en route to a fifth-place finish, his first series career top five.

Mosport News & Notes

The Race: This event is the third of 13 races on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule and the first of four road-course events this season. It is the third trip to the track for the series.

The Procedure: The starting field is 32 cars, including provisionals. The first 27 cars will qualify through NASCAR Road Race Style qualifying. There will be two qualifying groups based on practice times. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 51 laps covering 200 kilometers (124.3 miles).

The Track: Mosport International Raceway is Canada’s largest motorsports complex. The 750-acre, multi-track facility is located within the Greater Toronto Area, north of Bowmanville, Ont. Mosport features the 2.459-mile road course; a half-mile, paved oval (Mosport Speedway); a 2.4-kilometer advanced driver and race driver training facility. And a 1.4-kilometer kart track. The facility opened in 1961 and has hosted stock car, Formula 1 and IndyCar events over the years. The road-course track was resurfaced in 2000 and widened to 40 feet. The name Mosport is a contraction of motorsport and is pronounced “MOE-sport.”

The Records: Scott Steckly holds the series qualifying record for the track. He posted a time of 83.375 seconds (103.688 mph) on June 14, 2008. Andrew Ranger holds the race record. On June 17, 2007, he completed the event in 1 hour, 26 minutes, 39 seconds for an average speed of 86.838 mph.

Weekend of Racing: The Dickies 200 is the headline event of The Mosport High Octane Weekend. In addition to the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge, F2000 Championship, Castrol Canadian Touring Car Series and Ontario Formula Ford Challenge will be on the track offering racing of all types for the weekend extravaganza.

Last Year: JR Fitzpatrick survived a mid-race rain shower and a switch to rain tires to edge DJ Kennington and teammate Don Thomson Jr. for the victory.

NCATS Notebook: Delaware 200 Post-Race

Back in Victory Lane: For the first time since winning at Barrie (Ont.) Speedway on Sept. 8, 2007, DJ Kennington (No. 17 Castrol/Mahindra Tractor Dodge) reached Victory Lane. The Delaware 200 win was his first touring series victory at his home track after several runner-up finishes in the CASCAR Super Series. It was the first time the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series visited Delaware Speedway.

Another Long Absence: After not winning a pole since the 2007 season finale at Kawartha Speedway, Mark Dilley (No. 9 Dodge/Leland Industries Dodge) turned in the fastest lap in time trials for the Delaware 200. It was his third career pole in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.

Double Your Pleasure: In the Delaware 200, Ron Beauchamp Jr. (No. 60 Mopar/Mobil 1/Exide Batteries Dodge) established a couple of personal series bests. First of all, his second-place finish is a series career high. And, secondly, that performance vaulted him into the top spot in the driver points standings which is his highest ranking in the series.

Mobil 1 Command Performance of the Race Award: As a reward for his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series victory at Delaware Speedway, Kennington collects $1,500 from Mobil 1 for his effort. It was his third series career win.

Mopar Quick Three: This program awards the top three finishing Dodges in the race. In the Delaware 200, the victorious Kennington was the highest-finishing Dodge and thus earned a $2,000 bonus. Beauchamp, who finished second, was the second-highest finishing Dodge, which earned him $1,000. Picking up $500 for finishing as the third-highest Dodge was Scott Steckly (No. 22 Canadian Tire/Tow Truck in a Box Dodge).

Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award: Improving his position the most over the course of the race was  Joey McColm (No. 50 ATTO Insurance Dodge), making his 2009 series debut. After qualifying and starting 18th on the grid, he was able to navigate his way to a sixth-place finish. As a result, he earned the $1,000 award from Coca-Cola.

MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Race Award: In a new program for 2009, the driver who compiles the most points in a specialized system involving qualifying, race finish and leading laps collects the $1,000 award. At Delaware, Kennington, with his victory and race start in the third position, earned the bonus.

Up Next: St. Eustache

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will take a few weekends off before making a return trip to Autodrome St. Eustache and embarking on a portion of the schedule that will see seven races in seven weeks.

The 2009 season got underway on May 23 in St. Eustache with Dave Whitlock’s first series career victory. Overall, it will be the series’ third visit to the flat, .400-mile oval located northwest of Montreal. Scott Steckly won the inaugural event at the track last July en route to his 2008 series title.

Former Indy 500  (1995) and Formula One (1997) champion Jacques Villeneuve is scheduled to compete in the event, driving the Dave Jacombs-owned No. 7 Ford. The Canadian racing hero joins only Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi as drivers to win both Formula One and Indy championships.


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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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